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Maine Polar Express Train Rides (2024): A Complete Guide

Last revised: December 31, 2023

By: Adam Burns

Officially licensed "The Polar Express" train rides are fewer in number than general Christmas-themed events hosted by many heritage railroads and museums around the country.  In Maine, one organization does offer this unique experience, the Maine Narrow-Gauge Railroad in Portland!  More information about it may be found further below. 

Other Family Activities 

Maine is a winter wonderland, with plenty of fun activities for the entire family to enjoy during the holiday season. From tree lightings to snowshoeing, here are some popular Christmas activities that you can partake in with your family in Maine.

Christmas Prelude

(Kennebunkport):  The Christmas Prelude in Kennebunkport is a multi-day event that is a must-see for anyone visiting Maine during the holiday season. The event includes tree lightings, a candlelight procession, and a visit from Santa Claus. There are also craft fairs, hayrides, and plenty of delicious food to enjoy.

Gardens Aglow

(Boothbay): Gardens Aglow is an annual event held at the Coastal Maine Botanical Gardens in Boothbay. The event features over 650,000 lights, transforming the gardens into a magical wonderland. There are also live performances, food trucks, and plenty of hot cocoa to keep you warm.

Ice Skating

(Portland): During the holiday season, the Maine Mariners ice skating rink in Portland transforms into a winter wonderland. The rink is open to the public and offers skate rentals for those who don't have their own. Afterward, you can warm up with some hot cocoa and enjoy the holiday lights in downtown Portland.

Christmas in the Country 

(Oxford): Christmas in the Country is an annual event held at the Oxford County Fairgrounds. The event includes a tree lighting, horse-drawn carriage rides, and a visit from Santa Claus. There are also craft fairs, food vendors, and plenty of holiday-themed activities for the entire family to enjoy.

Snowshoeing At Acadia National Park

Acadia National Park is a popular destination during the summer months, but during the winter season, the park transforms into a winter wonderland. Snowshoeing is a popular activity in the park, with plenty of trails to choose from. You can also enjoy the holiday lights in nearby Bar Harbor.

In conclusion, Maine offers plenty of fun and festive Christmas activities for the entire family to enjoy. From tree lightings to snowshoeing, there's something for everyone during the holiday season. So, gather your loved ones and make some new holiday memories together in Maine.

Festival of Lights

(Bangor): The Festival of Lights in Bangor is a month-long event that includes tree lightings, parades, and plenty of festive holiday activities. The event culminates in a fireworks display on New Year's Eve.

Christmas By The Sea

(Rockland): Christmas By The Sea is an annual event held in Rockland that features a tree lighting ceremony, live music, and a visit from Santa Claus. There are also horse-drawn carriage rides, craft fairs, and plenty of delicious holiday treats.

Christmas Craft Fairs

Maine is home to many talented artisans, and during the holiday season, there are numerous craft fairs held throughout the state. These fairs offer the chance to find unique, handmade gifts for your loved ones while supporting local artists.

Toboggan Championships

(Camden): The National Toboggan Championships are held each February in Camden, but the practice runs and qualifying races take place during the holiday season. This is a fun activity to watch with your family and offers the chance to see some impressive toboggan runs.

2024 Dates Will Be Included As They Become Available!

Overview

Maine Narrow Gauge Railroad

(Portland): The Maine Narrow-Gauge Railroad & Museum operates a two-foot narrow-gauge railroad using restored steam locomotives.  It is the only "Two Footer" currently offering official The Polar Express events. 

The two-foot gauge was all but exclusive to the state of Maine; nowhere else could one find such a wide array of tiny railroads that weren't much larger than those found at a zoo. 

Loggers and timber operations came to love them.  They were cheap, effective, and required minimum construction; three attributes perfect in an industry constantly on the move.   


There were a total of eleven Maine two-footers in operation at some point including:

  • Bridgton & Saco River Railroad
  • Kennebec Central Railroad
  • Monson Railroad
  • Sandy River & Rangeley Lakes Railroad
  • Sandy River Railroad
  • Franklin & Megantic Railroad
  • Kingfield & Dead River Railroad
  • Phillips & Rangeley Railroad
  • Madrid Railroad
  • Eustis Railroad
  • Wiscasset, Waterville & Farmington Railroad (partially rebuilt by the museum of the same name)

Through their hard work, the history of this unique aspect of railroading has been well document and preserved. 

In addition to its numerous pieces of static equipment, the museum operates a number of special events and trains throughout the year including The Polar Express on select dates in late November through Christmas. 

The Polar Express Dates: 


SteamLocomotive.com

Wes Barris's SteamLocomotive.com is simply the best web resource on the study of steam locomotives. 

It is difficult to truly articulate just how much material can be found at this website. 

It is quite staggering and a must visit!